Students in Ontario pay the highest tuition fees in Canada.
High tuition fees have a discriminatory impact on students from middle- and low-income households, who are more likely to need loans to fund their education. Because Ontario charges interest rates on student loans, those from middle- and low-income backgrounds end up paying more than students who can afford to pay the sticker price.
These barriers are made worse for students from marginalized communities. Indigenous and racialized students are more likely to come from lower income households and therefore less likely to be able to pay for school without taking on debt. Students facing other forms of oppression, such as ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and sexism are less likely to have the services and support needed to access education.
Because of the enormous financial investment university and college education demands, students are pressured to choose educational fields according to what pays. Science and technology programs continuously get more funding, while liberal arts programs are threatened with cuts.
The provincial government regulates tuition fees through a tuition fee framework. The current framework allows domestic tuition fees to go up by three to five per cent every year. International students fees are unregulated, which means post-secondary institutions can increase them by however much they like. The current framework has been in effect since May 2013 and will expire in 2017, so now is the time to act.
Considering these realities, students launched the Fight the Fees campaign to persuade political leaders to make funding for post-secondary education a priority.
The campaign calls for:
- The progressive reduction and elimination of tuition fees for all;
- The conversion of the provincial portion of student loans into non-repayable grants; and
- The removal of interest on existing student loans.
Students across Canada voted overwhelmingly to organize and participate in a National Day of Action on November 2, 2016. The aim is to draw attention to the crisis in post-secondary education not just in Ontario, but across the country.
From Newfoundland and Labrador where students are fighting policies that will increase student debt and erode their quality of education, to Nova Scotia where students are fighting the deregulation of tuition fees, to right here in Ontario where students continue to pay the highest tuition fees in the country, students and our allies are uniting to Fight the Fees!
Join a coalition in your area, visit your students’ union to get involved, sign the petition or contact the Federation directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.